Sharing a social drink or two with friends can seem like a harmless activity. But, when does social drinking turn into dangerous binge drinking? It can be hard for people to set boundaries with alcohol when they are caught up in fun and excitement with friends. But, it is important to be aware of the potential short-term and long-term dangers that come from binge drinking.
Based on a research study completed by the Harvard School of Public Health, it is estimated that 2 out of every 5 college students are binge drinkers. But, this problem isn’t only a concern for college students. Teenagers and adults can also suffer the consequences of binge drinking as well. In fact, binge drinking is most common in adults over the age of 26.
What is Binge Drinking?
How do you know when you or a friend has bypassed social drinking and fallen into the trap of binge drinking? Usually, the distinguishing factor is the pattern that develops with one’s alcohol consumption. It is considered binge drinking if the drinking increases the blood alcohol concentration over 0.08 grams percent. In most cases, this happens when the amount of alcohol consumed in two hours is four or more drinks for women or five or more drinks for men. If someone is using drugs or prescription medications, a smaller amount of alcohol consumption might result in binge drinking.
Not surprisingly, experts have found correlations between binge drinking and an increased risk of developing an alcohol abuse problem. The severity of a person’s drinking problem can change quickly, resulting in a situation where a person is suffering from alcoholism and the harmful consequences that come from addiction.
Short-Term and Long-Term Consequences of Binge Drinking
Choosing to participate in this dangerous behaviour can lead to serious consequences. Not only will immediate health problems be encountered, but heavy drinking can also take a toll in the long-run as well.
These are some of the common short-term binge drinking consequences:
- Physical illness, such as vomiting and hangovers
- Loss of workplace productivity
- Missing class, poor school performance, and low grades
- Sexual assault
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Accidental pregnancy
- Accidental injury, such as car crashes, falls, burns, and more
Not only can the drinking have a short-term impact on the user, but the consequences can affect other people as well. Alcohol-impaired driving is the cause of many innocent deaths and injuries each year.
Additionally, the user will face long-term consequences of binge drinking as well, which may include:
- Cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure or stroke
- Alcohol use disorder
- Liver disease
- Nerve and neurological damage
- Depression and anxiety
- Children born with defects due to fetal alcohol syndrome
- Impaired mental function and dementia
The health effects vary depending on the person. But, most medical professionals will agree that binge drinking can have a long-term effect on people of all ages, races, and medical histories. Even people in seemingly good health can suffer from medical conditions caused by alcohol.
Find Help to Stop Binge Drinking
If binge drinking is a problem for you or someone that you love, then it is essential to find help as soon as possible. While there are laws and initiatives in place to reduce the risk of binge drinking nationwide, the real change needs to happen on an individual level.
When a person is facing problems related to alcohol, professional help is needed. Sometimes, a simple intervention and counselling program can be sufficient to break the trends. But, in other situations, it might be necessary to choose a full treatment program that includes a variety of services to help with recovery. Each person is unique, which is why the treatments need to be catered to the needs and preferences of the individual.